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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Historical Society purchased two historic downtown Jacksonville buildings: the 1878 St. Luke's Hospital and its neighbor the Florida Casket Factory.

The hospital will be used to house rare documents of Jacksonville and North Florida history, according to a release from the Jacksonville Historical Society. The Casket Factory will be used as a venue for events, exhibits and history programs.

Emily Lisska, Historical Executive Director said the society has had a need for a place to house its growing collection of rare city history. The 20,000 square feet of space provided by the newly acquired buildings will provide space for preserving documents, films and photographs.

There will also be enough room for researchers. Lisska said, "Most users of historic materials are local, but people from all over the world are interested in Jacksonville's history."

The release said during the Great Fire of 1901 the hospital was spared despite burning embers falling on the building. Good Samaritans and the bed of Hogan's Creek the building is built on top of stopped the fire from moving farther east.

Originally the hospital was built to care for tourists visiting Jacksonville during the winter months.

The Casket Factory was built later and is listed in Ripley's Believe It or Not due to the odd relationship of having a hospital and a casket factory as next-door neighbors. "It's history people don't easily forget," Lisska said.

The typical users of Jacksonville Historical Society documents are students and university professors for scholarly research, attracted by the extensive collection of photographs and images of the River City.

With the purchase of the buildings, Lisska said, "The Jacksonville Historical Society has a place to maintain historic documents, increase the collections and serve researchers. And, in the process, two of the city's most important buildings have been rescued."

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